- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 26, 2013

DeLand, Fla., residents are fighting off an attack from a secular group against their city seal, a 131-year-old symbol that contains a picture of a red heart plastered over an image of a ship anchor and a Christian cross.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State said in a Fox News report that the symbol — specifically, the cross — constitutes a governmental support for one religion over another and is therefore illegal. The group, in a letter to DeLand Mayor Robert Apgar, said the image violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause and the symbols should be either changed or removed.

The letter came on the heels of a complaint from a citizen, said the president of the Flagler County chapter of the group, Rabbi Merrill Shapiro.

The citizen said the symbols made non-Christians feel “like second-class citizens,” Rabbi Shapiro said in the Fox News article. “This is an intrusion of religion into the world of government. And the world of government and the world of religion should be separate as called for in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

But DeLand’s attorney says the seal isn’t Christian, but rather is based on city founders who wanted a symbol that would represent “faith, hope and charity,” Fox News reported.

“Nothing in the history of the city’s seal suggests that hit was adopted to promote any particular religion or even religion in general,” said attorney Darren Elkind in a letter to respond to the Americans United group.




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